Streaming giant Netflix has release the final five episodes of its Spanish hit series Money Heist on Friday.
Created by Spain’s private Antena 3 network, the thriller about a gang of thieves and their elaborate heists fast became Netflix’s most-watched series not in English after the platform picked up the show in December 2017.
The robber characters have code names from cities around the world that caught the attention of many viewers interested in knowing their fate. In fact, the movie gained recognition in the United States, which was not then used to dubbed shows.
Praising the series, the New York Times described its episodes, twists, and turns as a “joy ride in every sense” while Israel’s Haaretz newspaper called it “seriously riveting.”
The red overalls and Salvador Dali masks sported by the renegade gang members in the series have become popular costumes worn worldwide at parties and street protests.
“This is the first non-English language series to become a global phenomenon,” said Elena Neira, a professor of communication sciences at the Open University of Catalonia.
Thanks in part to the show’s success, Netflix and its competitors “realized that they did not need to produce everything in the United States” to get a global audience, she added.
While the highly addictive Money Heist screenplay is “not revolutionary,” it tells “a very universal story, of the struggle between good and bad…with messages about the power of women, camaraderie and the need to rebel,” said Neira.
“Lupin” shares many of the show’s features, such as its focus on a thief with “a certain moral” aspect who is “very intelligent,” she added.
Netflix picked up Money Heist shortly after the streaming service went live in over 130 countries in January 2016, bringing its coverage to almost the entire globe except for China.
Netflix’s recommendation algorithm also favours series like “Money Heist” with cliffhanger endings and are “highly addictive,” said Alberto Nahum Garcia, a professor of audiovisual communication at the University of Navarre.
“There was a kind of alignment of the planets at a time when distribution became even more global,” he added.
Neira further noted that the show benefited from the US streaming giant’s willingness to invest heavily to dub and add subtitles to shows in dozens of languages.
Following the global success of Money Heist, Spain’s audiovisual sector has received a huge boost.
“It placed Spain’s industry in a place where we never dreamed it could be,” the show’s creator Alex Pina said on Tuesday at a Madrid news conference to promote the second part of the fifth and final season of the series.
In 2018, Netflix signed a deal with Pina to produce new series and projects exclusively for them.
In 2019, it opened its first European production centre in Madrid, part of a multi-million euro investment in Spanish language content.
Netflix head Reed Hastings speaking on the show’s popularity, said it was “amazing” to see Spanish shows like Money Heist and Elite “win the hearts of fans not just in Spain, but globally”.
“Our aim is to be part of the Spanish creative ecosystem. We are investing for the long term,” he added at the opening of the company’s production centre in Madrid.